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Veterans Passed Away While on Secret VA Hospital Waiting List

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At least 40 U.S. veterans have passed away while waiting for medical appointments at Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system. The dead include a large number of veterans who were on a secret waiting list.

According to a report by the New York Daily News, the list was part of a multifaceted cost-cutting system set up by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix in an attempt to conceal the fact that between 1,400 and 1,600 sick veterans had to wait up to 21 months to see a doctor. The details of the scheme were provided a retired top VA doctor and high-level sources.

The sources said internal emails show managers at Arizona’s VA hospital had knowledge of the practice and even supported it. Retiring Dr. Sam Foote, who worked 24 years in the VA system, told CNN that the Phoenix VA worked off two patient appointment lists.

He said the “official” list shows the VA was offering appointments within 14 to 30 days. Foote said the list is a sham because there was a second, secret list where wait time were much longer. He told CNN that the scheme was intentionally put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules.

Foote alleges that the complex plans involved shredding evidence to conceal the second list. He claims VA officials often instructed staff to not make veterans’ appointments in the computer system, according to the New York Daily News. Instead, when a veteran requested an appointment, “They enter information into the computer and do a screen-capture, hard-copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer — so there’s no record,” he told CNN.

The hard copy is then entered into a secret electronic waiting list, Foote said, with the paper trail being shredded. The cover-up did not stop there. Foote said patients wouldn’t be taken off the secret list until their appointment time was within 14 days or less, to give off the appearance that waiting times were improving.

Other high-level VA staff have confirmed Foote’s details to CNN.

CNN also gathered a host of emails from July 2013 showing top management – including Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman – knew about the wait times and the off-the-books records. The emails also revealed that some patients were waiting as long as 20 weeks to get their first appointment with a doctor.

Foote sent letters to the VA Office of the Inspector General, providing full details about the secret electronic waiting list and veteran deaths. Foote said Inspector General investigators have interviewed him about the allegations.

 “It is disheartening to hear allegations about Veterans care being compromised,” the agency told CNN.  “We have conducted robust internal reviews since these allegations surfaced and welcome the results from the Office of Inspector General’s review. We take these allegations seriously.” disclaimer: This article: Veterans Passed Away While on Secret VA Hospital Waiting List was posted on Friday, May 9th, 2014 at 5:37 pm at and is filed under Medical Malpractice Lawsuits.

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